Climate Change and the Effect of the COVID-19 Lockdown on it
COVID-19 has led to noticeable shifts in environmental parameters, owing to most countries enforcing stay-at-home orders and people venturing out only for essentials. It almost feels like nature has got some breathing space, as we have seen animals like dolphins, deer, etc. reclaim spaces where they had been pushed out of due to a growing human presence. At the same time, the shift in government planning to tackle COVID-19 has led to people using this as a cover to increase poaching in Africa and deforestation in the Amazons. We have also seen, roughly a 50% drop in nitrogen oxide emissions and a 17% decrease in carbon emissions globally, while India saw it fall by 26%. The reason why India saw a greater fall was because of the higher number of emission releasing automobiles as well as many factories shutting down for long periods of time, while some countries continued production. We need to remember, however, that the narrative that staying at home and individual responsibility can fix our earth is flawed until we recognize that it’s the large corporations that need to rectify their ways. 100 companies are responsible for 71% of carbon emissions. It takes 15 tankers to match the emissions of every car on Earth. Saying that if we as individuals save some water and a little bit of electricity will help cumulatively, but it is still insignificant as compared to the large companies that have enormous bargaining power.
In order to limit global warming, we need a 2.7% decrease in emissions per year. Even though we saw a significant decrease this year, we already have so much accumulated damage, that we cannot just steamroll ahead and return to full production without paying heed to the Earth. We need to aggressively invest in green technology and renewable energy and seek a sustainable living. Otherwise, this breather we have got will just delay the Earth’s demise, not halt it!